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One-to-one with Stephen Gaskin


Welcome to the latest installment of Q&A, our regular series of one-to-ones with some of Greater Vancouver's leading business figures.

Our subject this week is Stephen Gaskin, Scotiabank Senior Vice President, BC & Yukon Region

What inspires you?

I am most inspired by people and their resiliency in overcoming tough circumstances. Originally, I was fascinated by people who undertook big and dangerous adventures. More recently, I've been most inspired by the incredible day-to-day stories of resiliency I have encountered having more serious and open conversations with individuals who would identify as BIPOC or LGBT+.

How do you relax?

Moving to B.C. from downtown Toronto in January has really inspired my wife and I to get out and enjoy nature. We are always looking for the next great trail to hike. I also love sailing, golf, music, and good wine.

What was your first job?

It was in the Canadian Forces Reserves where I rose to the 'lofty' rank of Corporal. The experience exposed me to adventure and challenge early in life and built confidence. This limited experience has given me great respect for anyone who has chosen service as a full-time calling. I belong to our Veterans Network at Scotiabank and support employers actively recruiting individuals who have served.

What keeps you awake at night?

Not too much keeps me up a night. When I do toss and turn it's usually about something work-related and in the light of day something that seems more trivial than it did at 3:00 am.

What is the biggest challenge facing Greater Vancouver?

Like most big cities, I think the biggest challenges are on the social front – supporting opportunities for individuals and families who face barriers to building a good life. The good news is the business community locally is so generous with time, money, and advice.

What do you like most about doing business in Greater Vancouver?

There's a sense of possibility here that creates this amazing energy. There is an entrepreneurial spirit that is unmatched anywhere else. I see that spirit in the customers I visit, the community organizations we partner with and the community leaders I'm privileged to meet.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?

I'm terrible at reflection. I'd much rather look ahead. Scotiabank passionately supports community hockey across Canada. As such, I've had the opportunity to meet some of the greatest players to play the game. One current player being interviewed was asked, "What was your greatest shift."His answer was, "I have not had it yet." That's how I prefer to think about it.

What is the most important lesson, business or otherwise, life has taught you?

I didn't coin the phrase, but in life, I try to live by the 2120 rule. Simply, at 2110 water is hot. At 2120, it boils. With boiling water comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train. For me, it's an uncomplicated metaphor that pushes me to give the extra effort in every task I undertake. Admittedly, this concept is harder to explain to my teammates under 40 who think in Celsius and can't figure out why anyone would power a train with steam.

What do you think Greater Vancouver needs more of?

Fewer barriers to advancement and increased access to opportunities. We need newcomers to feel at home faster, and we need to remove barriers to advancement for disadvantaged groups. More people participating fully in our economy will benefit all of us.

What do you think Greater Vancouver needs less of?

Red tape in every aspect of life. Moving my family interprovincially was so paper-driven and I encountered so many slow and tedious processes. I find this the same when I try to solve business issues. Despite this, there is still no place I'd rather be.

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?

I mentioned I like music previously. What might surprise people is I love the Canadian rock trio Rush. I have been to 58 live shows around the world.

If you could leave one professional legacy behind, what would it be?

I hope employees, customers, and community members I've interacted with found me kind and respectful always – even in situations where I needed to be direct and honest. Even better if they were inspired to do the same – especially in these difficult times.

Scotiabank is a Canadian-headquartered bank with focus on high-quality growth markets in the Americas. They are a top-five universal bank in each of their core markets, and a top-15 wholesale bank in the U.S., delivering superior advice and services to help their customers get ahead.

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